California Texting and Driving Laws

California texting and driving laws

In California, texting while driving is not just frowned upon; it's illegal. The state has strict laws to prevent drivers from using cell phones, emphasizing the importance of road safety. Texting and driving distract drivers, leading to accidents that can cause injuries or even fatalities.

Understanding these laws helps drivers stay compliant and keeps roads safe. At MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers, we fight for those injured in car crashes.

California aims to reduce road accidents through its comprehensive distracted driving laws. These regulations are part of the state's commitment to enhancing traffic safety. 

As drivers, knowing what the law expects to avoid penalties and contribute to safer driving environments is important. This knowledge is not just a legal requirement but a moral one, ensuring everyone's safety on the road.

Overview of California's Texting and Driving Legislation

California's texting and driving laws reflect a strong stance against distracted driving. The state updated its legislation to cover drivers' use of any electronic wireless communications device. This includes a handheld wireless telephone.

These laws are part of broader efforts to reduce road accidents and ensure driver attention remains on the road. They apply to everyone driving within the state, whether California residents or visitors.

The laws specifically target the manual use of cell phones while driving. This includes texting, calling without a hands-free device, and using apps. The goal is to keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their focus on driving conditions.

As technology evolves, the laws adapt to include new forms of distraction, like using social media while driving. Even hands-free mode can lead to a distracted driver.

Specifics of the Texting and Driving Ban

Specifics of the texting and driving ban

California law prohibits all drivers from using handheld wireless telephones while operating a motor vehicle. This ban includes texting, making calls without a hands-free device, and using apps. The legislation aims to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving, which remains a serious challenge to traffic safety.

According to the California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5, using a cell phone while driving is illegal unless the device is configured for hands-free listening and talking and is used in that manner.

This statute covers various devices. It ensures that drivers cannot bypass the law by using different types of technology. It's designed to be comprehensive. The law covers all potential handheld uses of electronic devices while driving.

What Is Prohibited Under the Law

Under California's distracted driving laws, drivers cannot operate a cell phone while driving. This includes holding a phone, using any apps, and texting. The law applies to all electronic wireless communications devices, not just cell phones. The aim is to keep the driver's attention fully on the road.

Exceptions to this law include functions that require only a single swipe or tap of the driver's finger. The device must be mounted in a way that does not hinder the view of the road. GPS and music streaming are allowed if operated under these conditions.

However, watching videos or using video calling features while driving remains strictly prohibited These restrictions are vital for maintaining focus and reducing the likelihood of accidents due to distracted driving.

In addition, EMS or some other emergency services agency could be allowed to use a cell phone while driving. Reach out if you have questions about what constitutes an authorized emergency vehicle.

Penalties for Texting and Driving in California

California's penalties for texting and driving discourage this dangerous behavior. For the first offense, the base fine is $20, but with additional penalty assessments, the cost can exceed $150. Subsequent offenses are more costly. They come with increased fines and additional penalties.

Fines and Other Legal Penalties

The base fine for a first texting violation while driving is $20, but the total can be much higher with court costs and penalty assessments.

For subsequent violations, the base fine increases to $50, but with additional fees, it can total around $250. These penalties are part of the state's efforts to discourage distracted driving and enhance road safety.

California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 stipulates that each offense also puts a point on the driver's driving record, which can impact insurance rates and driving privileges. 

Accumulating points can lead to higher insurance costs and even driver's license suspension. The state takes these violations seriously, aiming to prevent the behaviors that lead to serious road accidents.

Points on Driving Record and Insurance Implications

When you get cited for texting while driving, you not only receive a fine but also add a point to your driving record. This point can affect your insurance premiums, making it more expensive to get car insurance. Insurers view drivers with points as higher risks and raise their rates accordingly.

Racking up points on your record can lead to more severe consequences, such as license suspension. 

California's point system penalizes poor driving behaviors and encourages adherence to traffic laws. Understanding these implications can help drivers make better decisions and avoid activities that lead to points and fines.

How Law Enforcement Detects Texting and Driving

How law enforcements detects texting and driving

Law enforcement agencies leverage various methods to catch drivers who text and drive. Officers look for signs of distracted driving, such as drivers looking down frequently, holding a device, or erratic driving behavior. They may also use technology, and increased surveillance when texting and driving are more likely, such as during rush hours or holidays.

In addition, some police departments use unmarked motor vehicles or officers positioned at vantage points to observe drivers discreetly. These proactive measures deter texting and driving and catch offenders before accidents occur.

Challenges in Enforcing the Law

  • Subtle behavior. Detecting texting and driving can be challenging because drivers often try to conceal their actions. They may hold their devices below window level or glance at their screens, making it difficult for officers to spot violations.
  • Limited resources. Law enforcement agencies have limited resources and cannot monitor every driver on the road simultaneously. This means they must prioritize enforcement efforts based on available resources and areas with higher rates of distracted driving.
  • Legal constraints. Officers must adhere to legal protocols when enforcing distracted driving laws, ensuring their actions comply with constitutional rights and legal standards. This can sometimes limit their ability to catch offenders in the act.
  • Technological advances. As technology changes, so do methods for detecting and preventing distracted driving. Law enforcement agencies must continually update their tools and techniques to keep pace with changing trends and behaviors.
  • Public awareness. Encouraging public awareness and cooperation is essential for effective enforcement. Law enforcement agencies often rely on community partnerships and educational campaigns to remind drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and encourage compliance with the law.

How Texting and Driving Affects Liability

Texting and driving can substantially impact liability in car accidents. When a driver causes a crash due to texting, they are typically considered negligent, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care while driving.

This negligence makes them liable for any resulting damages, including medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Cell phone use can lead to reckless driving. The cell phone law is sweeping, and each law enforcement agency can and should enforce the law.

Using Evidence of Texting in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases involving texting and driving, evidence of the driver's texting activity can be vital. This evidence may include phone records, witness statements, and testimony from accident reconstruction experts. Demonstrating that the driver was texting during the accident strengthens the victim's case.

Technological Solutions to Prevent Texting and Driving

Various technological solutions exist to prevent texting and driving, including apps that disable phone functionality while driving, vehicle-integrated systems that block incoming messages, and Bluetooth-enabled devices that allow for hands-free communication.

These technologies help reduce the temptation to text and drive, promote safer driving habits, and reduce the risk of accidents.

What to Do If You Are Hit by a Driver Who Was Texting

What to do if you are hit by a driver who was texting

If you are hit by a driver who is texting, follow these steps:

  1. Check for injuries. Check yourself and others involved in the collision for catastrophic injuries.
  2. Call 911. Report the car crash to law enforcement and ask for medical assistance.
  3. Exchange information. Swap contact and insurance information with the other parties at the scene.
  4. Document the scene. Record the crash site, including vehicle damage and road conditions.
  5. Get witness information. Gather contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
  6. Seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention to document any injuries.
  7. Contact a personal injury lawyer. Work with a personal injury lawyer to review your rights and explore your legal options.

Injuries Caused By Texting and Driving

  • Whiplash. The sudden impact of a car accident can trigger whiplash, resulting in neck pain and stiffness.
  • Broken bones. The force of a collision can cause fractures, requiring medical treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Head injuries from car accidents can lead to traumatic brain injuries. They impact cognitive function and quality of life.
  • Spinal cord injuries. Severe collisions can result in spinal cord injuries, causing paralysis and lifelong disability.
  • Internal injuries. Blunt force trauma from motor vehicle accidents can cause internal injuries. They require immediate medical attention.
  • Psychological trauma. Car accidents can cause psychological trauma, leading to anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Soft tissue injuries. Damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons can result in pain and limited mobility.

How MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers Can Help

At MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers, we represent victims of car crashes caused by texting and driving. Our law office understands the complexities of these cases and works to secure the compensation our clients deserve.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Orange County Car Accident Lawyer

Schedule a free consultation with our Orange County car accident lawyer

If you've been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, don't hesitate. Contact MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers for a free consultation. Our experienced Orange County car accident lawyer will review your case. We provide personalized legal guidance. Schedule your consultation today to get started on the path to justice.

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